Oi you, stop it.
I know, I know. You might have seen the title of the blog post and instantly activated an inner or even literal eye roll. But please…hear me out.
I know it seems like everyone who is old enough to remember Timmy Mallet has seen lockdown as a reason to record their voice in order to be shared via Itunes, but I promise you this wasn’t something I did on a whim or in an effort to hop on a bandwagon. That said I don’t really see why it would be a major problem if I had! There’s no harm is there? Particularly if you want to use your voice for good. It’s not something that’s come out of boredom either, if I’m honest it’s utter madness to add another thing to my to-do list, but it’s come out of desire I’ve had my whole adult life to normalise talking about the realities (and struggles) of life.
What’s it about?
It’s called Play Pause Repeat – A podcast about mental health and wellbeing hosted by two friends brought together by music. The name has a lot of meanings – I won’t bore you with them all, but here’s a couple. Not only is the name a reference to the music element of the podcast, but the fact that in life it’s important to reflect (press pause) and that when we do we often realise the patterns in our behaviour or life outcomes (repeat) that perhaps need attention. It’s hosted by myself, a content creator who has always created a lot of content about mental health/taboo issues/music, who is currently undertaking studies in mental health, and my friend Kelly, a architectural model maker who has recently completed her training to become a PT and Yoga instructor.
What’s the format?
Each week we will pick a subject – something humans tackle or experience in life that can impact mental health and wellbeing. We will start the episode by picking a song each that relates to the subject – whether it’s the lyrics, the mood, or because it’s one we turn to when we are experiencing the subject of the show. We will then explore are own personal experiences related to the topic. Then we will pause and decide a few subjects to delve in to a bit further. There will be a follow up episode which will repeat the area’s in which we’ve delved in to already, but this time it will be after a week of research, reading books and finding tools to deal with ‘it’ – so we can share them in the hope they will help you too. This episode won’t be as structured as the initial one and will be referred to as the shuffle episode.
You love to waffle when you’re passionate, will each episode be 5 hours long?
It’s true, I have a lot to say about mental health and we will try to cover lots of angles in each episode but we’ve decided to make the first episode of each topic fairly bitesized by keeping it at around the half hour mark. We know that many of you are time-poor so we thought this might be a good length – something you can listen to on a commute, while you’re in the bath, while munching your lunch etc. The second episode will be longer in length if we have discovered many tools and advice we wish to share. By expanding each topic in to a second episode it means you won’t lose out on helpful content, and enables some flexibility.
What do we want to achieve?
Although we both have some qualifications within mental health and wellbeing, this is primarily from the angle of personal experience. Rather than trying to be guru’s or therapists we are asking questions – trying to encouraging conversation by going down various tangents and exploring why we might feel what we feel. We want this to feel like a good way to spend your precious time though, so each shuffle episode we will try to point you in the direction of some useful tools and resources. Something that will be echoed in the content we post on our socials too.
Why now though?
The wheels were in motion for me to start a podcast a few years ago. Then I had to abandon my plans numerous times and shelved the idea of starting one entirely for longer than I had planned. I think when you press pause on something, sometimes that time gives you too much space to cultivate all the many possible reason why you shouldn’t do ‘it’. When you hesitate for too long the list of potential dangers and worries becomes longer and longer, and your plans either end up getting delayed further or shelved permanently.
My first stall came when some lovely people I know started their own podcast which was pretty much exactly the theme/format I had planned, and I didn’t want to tarnish their launch by voicing the conundrum, and I didn’t want the awkwardness of launching mine at the same time so decided to abandon my plans. Then after a reset and when I was just about ready to go for it for a second time, another friend launched one which again was similar to the new format I had devised. This might tell you that I wasn’t being creative enough with my podcast idea, or that it’s a subject that lots of people want to talk about right now. Both those podcasts are fantastic and they spoke so eloquently, wisely and honestly on the subjects, so my initial doubts about pursuing my own were amplified once again. Do I need to add my voice to the mix, I wondered?
During lockdown I’ve had to diversify my work to ensure I have enough income to keep going. I’ve been hired as an editor, a videographer, a speaker, a consultant, a content creator and a photographer during the last few months. One of my dear friend’s Kelly hired me to take photos to help with the launch of her new career as a yoga instructor. She is one of those people that radiates joy and kindness and any time with her is spent well. We have been friends over a decade and been through a lot of ups and downs in life, but we’ve never had ups and downs in our relationship. While we don’t see each other for months on end and aren’t the type of friends to Whatsapp incessantly, there’s always been an understanding between us. It’s one of those rare low-pressure, low-maintenance friendships that is just so so effortless. It dawned on me that with her new career and my desire to talk about mental health and life’s trickiness, that we could make for a wonderful team. So after our first shoot I sent her a message with the idea to do some sort of wellbeing podcast together and thankfully she was up for it!
I honestly don’t think this would have ever happened if Lockdown hadn’t happened. I’m not pushing myself as much as I used to. Not having to commute to London or do activities that drain my energy I’ve found myself having more mental and physical energy to channel in to other things…in this case start something new – a podcast.
Why a podcast?
I have been on a few radio shows over the years. The absolute don of the airwaves Alex Baker very kindly invited me as a guest on his conversational show numerous times, as did Harry on his Hoxton Radio show. Although I had the element of nervousness I always feel in any type of public speaking situation, the audio-only nature of radio definitely meant I wasn’t as out of my comfort zone as other mediums have always pushed me to be. It was that helpful level of jitters instead of the paralysing type. I relished that the focus wasn’t on what I looked like, what I was wearing, who I knew, but what I was saying. If my body was less temperamental and allowed me more energy to really push myself into new realms career wise I might have explored that as a possible career route. But I was all too aware of how it’s a difficult industry to get in to and the music industry has already pushed me to the brink on too many occasions. My ability to fight had been extinguished at that point and I didn’t have the financial comfortability to do the required unpaid/low paid work that would likely be required to work myself up the ladder. I’ve already done that in numerous industries and it had stunted my evolution in to adulthood somewhat and I wanted to be able to do grown up things finally . I digress…. Being on the radio mic will have to be my next life when I’ll also have an animal sanctuary for rescue animals and a degree in criminology.
The point is, what I’ve always loved about my work as a presenter isn’t the intro stuff or linking parts where the focus is on me talking to the camera alone, it’s the conversation part when I get to interview people and try and find a connection that will allow stories, memories and truth to flow. I’ve never wanted fame or front covers, acclaim or awards, but I have wanted to be able to do work that I find rewarding, and for me being part of a conversation that I know others will benefit from provides just that.
In short a podcast could be the vehicle for the part of my work that I enjoy, and remove a lot of the elements I struggle with. I’ve fallen completely out of love with YouTube too, and something about the podcast industry feels a bit safer to me. Of course this isn’t based on any experience at all, I’m sure it comes with a bevvy of it’s own issues and challenges.
The best thing about this is that I get to do this with a friend, which makes it feel far less scary and much more fun than a fresh solo adventure. I’ve always been fiercely independent to a fault, so it’s been lovely to share the load for the first time.
Do we really need another podcast about mental health?
I hear you. I battled with the same question, hence the 2/3 year delay in launching . But everyone’s life experience is unique to them and therefore their voice and their truth will dictate that the podcast will be unique too. In the same way you might not gel with certain therapy techniques or certain therapists, not every wellbeing/mental health podcast will be for you. We fully acknowledge that our execution, chat, or approach won’t be for everyone, but we hope in time we will form a lovely audience and community that will help to make this a wonderfully interactive experience. We hope the addition of the music element and our stories about the music industry might add another element of interest too.
It’s not perfect, but stick with us.
While lockdown may have been the catalyst for starting the podcast it has provided plenty of challenges. We started recording the episodes when lockdown was at it’s strictest, so everything has been done remotely and via a lot of trial and error. We have recorded and edited some half hour shows that have been scrapped while we experimented with equipment and battled with issues out of our control. My partner is home working 12 hours days at the moment and our flat is so small that if someones on the phone there is no quiet spot in the place. So that means the weekend is the only option, which also happens to be the time your neighbours want to mow their lawns, do DIY, or host bbq’s in their gardens – all of which provide an unprofessional backdrop to a podcast recording. Throw in a very focal Siamese cat and you have a podcaster’s nightmare recording scenario. Due to poor wifi some of the episodes that made the cut we were battling a 4 second delay, which meant a hefty edit job. But all things considered we’ve ended up with something that sounds decent! In time we will take some promo images as of course that was something we couldn’t do while keeping at a 1-2 metre distance – no with my zero photoshop skills anyway!
To any potential sponsors reading
Obviously we’re not earning anything from creating this podcast and we’re doing it entirely for the love, however it would be so helpful if we could get our costs covered via regular sponsors. It would be awesome to team up with any brands who would like to support what we are doing. We are also currently using very basic equipment which isn’t delivering optimum sound quality either, so any mic brands that would like to team up would be received with open arms (at a distance of course).
We do have a snazzy jingle…
Shout out to the ridiculously talented John Taylor who put together a jingle in the space of a few hours. What an absolute star!
How can you help?
This is a new project so any kind of support would be incredible and help us get off the ground. Any shares, follows, interaction would absolutely make our day. The one thing that would really help this become something we can continue to do long term would be some lovely reviews on iTunes etc. Click those stars (if we deserve it) and leave us some feedback – I believe that helps the algorithms as well as helping you to get in to the charts.
How can you get involved?
We’re not rigid about the topics we are going to chat about each week. Initially we came up with some topics by separately compiling lists of topics we thought could make for good conversation and then we compared our lists. There were a number that we both wanted to explore so we’ve started with those, but we wholeheartedly welcome you sending us a DM or leaving a comment to suggest a topic that would be helpful to you if we were to delve in to it.
We will also be trying to post regularly on our instagram and will be inviting lots of interaction there, so please do get involved, your words may end up influencing or featuring on the show.
In the future we will definitely want to have some guests on the show, so if you have an idea you’d like to pitch for a topic do get in touch! If you have a wellbeing/mental health product we could review on the show please do reach out to us.
So that’s it, in something much bigger than a nutshell….
The first episode is on Imposter Syndrome and I’d love you to have a listen!